UMBC alum leads successful pilot of method for monitoring biodiversity on farms

by Sarah Hansen, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
July 26, 2023

Research led by Adam Dixon, Ph.D. ’21, geography and environmental systems, describes the successful pilot of a novel method to study how well grassland birds are faring on croplands. The study, published in Ecological Applications, may serve as a model for monitoring wildlife on working lands more generally, which can also include cattle ranches and logged forests. It’s an example of the kind of work that’s needed to help humanity move toward a more sustainable coexistence between agriculture and biodiversity.

Farmers lead a challenging existence, frequently operating on extremely thin financial margins and relying on fickle weather, Dixon says, which incentivizes them to simplify and control the landscape as much as possible. Unfortunately, that can lead to environmental harm. Grassland species are in particular peril given their habitat is converted to farmland at an alarming rate. Through his work, Dixon wants to help find a middle way that supports both farmers and the environment.

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